Er moet een stichting komen die ‘Vrienden van de ERC’ heet. Die kan het geld beheren dat weldoeners willen schenken aan de beste onderzoekers van Europa.
Het is een van de aanbevelingen om de Europese Onderzoeksraad ERC te versterken. Een commissie hield de Europese wetenschapsfinancier tegen het licht en vond het vreemd dat private schenkingen geen goede plek hebben bij de onderzoeksraad.
De ERC is de Europese evenknie van de Nederlandse onderzoeksfinancier NWO: het beschikbare geld wordt onder de beste wetenschappers verdeeld op grond van oordelen van andere wetenschappers. Tot nu toe scoort Nederland goed in de aanvragen voor Europese onderzoeksbeurzen.
De evaluatiecommissie had nog meer aanbevelingen. Zo moet de ERC beter worden bestuurd. De president van de European Research Council zou bijvoorbeeld permanent in Brussel moeten werken en minstens tachtig procent van zijn tijd aan de ERC moeten besteden.
Overigens is de commissie zeer positief over de ERC. Die heeft de hoge verwachtingen ingelost of misschien zelfs overtroffen, aldus het evaluatierapport.
Delta, 12-09-2002The idea is so simple that one wonders why it doesn’t yet exist. Such an idea is the Sunshower, a tanning device for under the shower.
Eight years ago Merijn Wegdam had a sublime Eureka moment while lying in bed as his sister returned from a tanning salon. “I had to take a shower and thought that it would be a great idea to combine taking a shower and getting a tan”, says Wegdam. The idea for the Sunshower was born. He worked out the idea as his graduation project at the faculty of Industrial Design engineering. A year later he had an investor and made the first 100 Sunshowers.Since that initial development phase, millions have been invested in Wegdams invention, which he has developed with Oscar Meijer, a Civil Engineering alumnus. The first version, the Sunshower Deluxe, was introduced in late 2003. It had to be built into a shower, consisted of five lamps and cost 5,000 euros. Wegdam and Meijer sold hundreds a year, and some to well-known companies like Center Parcs and Golden Tulip.
But many of the costumers who wanted to have the Sunshower built in their homes found it too expensive. Wegdam: “We therefore made a new version in 2006: the Sunshower Comfort. This one didn’t have to be built in and it was half as expensive as the Deluxe. We wanted to make the Sunshower accessible to a bigger group.” The Sunshower starred at bathroom fairs in Germany and the United States. In 2007 it was sold in ten different countries.A year later the financial crisis hit the company hard. “A difficult time started for luxurious goods”, Wegdam says. “We sold fewer Sunshowers than anticipated. We wanted to sell thousands a year, but were still selling hundreds. But we had to keep on growing to keep the business running.”Wegdam decided to make a new Sunshower: the Combi. “It combines sunlight and infrared light. The former is for getting a tan, while the latter helps to treat stiff muscles. This version is also good for one’s health. We’ve conducted research with Leiden University and VU University Amsterdam to make sure that users wouldn’t get burned but would still get vitamin D. A lot of people lack vitamin D in the winter, because they hardly get sunlight on their skin. The new model was tested at two student houses in Delft, and last April we introduced the Sunshower Combi and reduced the price to 1500 euros. It was a smart move. Things are looking good for us. Despite the crisis we finally expect to sell thousands of Sunshowers in the near future.”